A woman using face product

Are Face Moisturizers Necessary?

Face moisturizer is one of the most popular skincare products on the planet, but do you really need it? Well... It's complicated.
Updated: November 14, 2022
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Hydration is one of the most important aspects of maintaining healthy skin, so it makes sense to assume that using facial moisturizers is a necessary thing to do. Or does it?

Are face moisturizers needed, or can you get by without them?

What is a moisturizer?

A moisturizer is exactly what it sounds like, a product designed to increase the hydration and moisture in the skin. During an average day, our skin is exposed to many challenging factors. If you have a long morning commute, you will experience pollution, dirt, dust, temperature fluctuations, and other environmental aspects. All of these things add up and affect your skin.

This can cause uncomfortable dryness and a feeling of tightness. It’s also not uncommon to experience bouts of flaking. When applied, the active ingredients inside the moisturizer work to loosen up any tight areas and clear up irritating patches of dryness and flakes.

Moisturizers are some of the most popular skincare products on the market today for their simplicity and effectiveness.

The potential downsides of moisturizers

Believe it or not, moisturizers can have some negative side effects for certain people. Some even claim that using moisturizers at all isn’t a good idea, and they will do more harm than good.

We think facial moisturizers have pros and cons that need to be discussed (we have gone into more detail about whether moisturizers are good or bad for you here), but let’s list a couple of the common negative points below just for the sake of clarity.

Face moisturizers can add to oiliness

The skin’s natural oil, Sebum, is produced to varying degrees depending on the person. People with oily skin produce too much of it, which can lead to greasiness, blocked pores, and breakouts. Moisturizer can add to these symptoms as it will only inject more moisture into areas that already have too much. If you suffer from overly oily skin, we’d recommend you avoid moisturizers.

Moisturizers can cause dull skin

It might sound weird to say, but moisturizers can actually cause your skin to look duller and less vibrant. Our skin undergoes natural cell regeneration, which is just a fancy way of saying it gets rid of dead skin cells so newer, healthier ones can grow. Unfortunately, using moisturizer too often can actually interfere with this process and delay it significantly, making your skin retain those unsightly dead cells. Not great, huh?

Are face moisturizers necessary?

In a word, no. However, the perceived necessity of moisturizers completely depends on the person and their individual skin concerns.

Those with particularly oily skin don’t need moisturizers at all, as they would overload their faces with too much water. On the other hand, if you constantly suffer from uncomfortable dryness, moisturizers can be a quick fix when you’re on the go or at home.

Like everything in skincare, this is all subjective. Nobody NEEDS a certain product absolutely, but common items like moisturizers have been proven to help with specific skin issues.

Final word

Only you can determine whether your skin will benefit from a product such as a face moisturizer. Yes, there are potential downsides, but that’s true of everything.

Examine your own skin and its current condition before making any purchases.

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This article has been reviewed by the in-field experts on our Medical Content Advisory Board to ensure everything is up-to-date and accurate.